Social Work Officer
Social Work Officers deliver professional social work services in a military setting to support the morale, efficiency and mental health of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families. Social Work Officers offer clinical social work services similar to community mental health and social services agencies.
As well as the full range of challenges common to Canadian society, CAF members and their families cope with additional stresses associated with frequent moves and separations. These stresses can give rise to social and family circumstances that involve complex social work interventions.
The primary responsibilities of a Social Work Officer are to:
- Provide clinical intervention services
- Assist in the resolution of compassionate situations
- Consult with and advise leaders on the social circumstances encountered by personnel in their units
- Investigate and report compassionate situations
- Deliver preventive and rehabilitative programs in the areas of:
- Pre- and post-deployment stress
- Suicide prevention
- Family violence
Social Work Officers work in an office at a base, wing or garrison, and deploy overseas on operational missions. They may be required to collaborate with civilian social agencies to develop appropriate referral contacts and to remain abreast of current professional development and social legislation.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Social Work Officer is $49,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Navy) or Captain, their salary is approximately $79,000 per year.
Social Work Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. As they gain experience and knowledge, Social Work Officers may progress to senior positions that involve supervisory responsibility at Health Care Clinics across the country or at National Defence Headquarters.
Related civilian occupations
- Social Worker
Basic military officer qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Social Work Officers are posted to a base to complete 12 months of on-the-job training, where they expand and broaden clinical social work practice approaches under the supervision of a more senior Social Work Officer.
Social Work Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Training
- Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
- Emotional Focused Therapy for Couples
The minimum required education to apply for this position is a Master of Social Work degree from an accredited Canadian Social Work Program, a current unrestricted licence (active status) to practise as a social worker from a provincial or territorial regulatory authority/association and a letter of "good standing" from that authority. You will also require two years of clinical experience within the last five years. The minimum requirements for Social Work Officers are fixed and equivalencies are not accepted.
If you already have a Master of Social Work degree from a recognized Canadian university, are registered with the professional social work association of a Canadian province or territory, and meet the required clinical experience outlined above, the Forces may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training and Second Language Training are required before beginning the on-the-job training program.
Subsidized Education for Entry Level Masters
If you have a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a recognized Canadian university, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a Master of Social Work program at a Canadian university. They receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must have proof that you have been accepted without condition in an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program, having a focus on clinical practice, at a Canadian University.
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